Offaly legend Seamus Darby opens up about impact of fame

Seamus Darby who scored the 1982 winning All Ireland goal for Offaly

WHEN Séamus Darby scored the winning goal in 1982 All Ireland Final, robbing Kerry of an unprecedented fifth title in a row, it would be an event that would go on to shape the rest of his life.

Scoring the winning goal would be the dream moment for any athlete, however, the resulting fame came at a price with the breakdown of his marriage and financial ruin.

In a rare interview with RTE for the radio documentary, 'The Goal that made Champions', the 65-year-old who now owns the Greyhound Bar in Tipperary talks about his current battle with prostate cancer and how ended up living in London for 12 years having left Ireland virtually penniless.

"I was always very interested in football, the first match I played I was 14. My ambition was to play for Offaly if I was good enough and it came around", he said.

"I would work with farmers from I was about nine or ten every summer... being the eldest of eight I was needed to bring a bit of money in.

"My first pair of football boots were on the never never, that's the way people lived in those days", he said.

Speaking about the now legendary All Ireland goal he said when the final whistle went he thought about "my mother and father, extended family and the people of Offaly, mission accomplished you might say. Half of Offaly came onto the field people wanted to touch you.. it was an historic day

"The celebration was unbelievable we went mad really. At that time money wasn't as big a problem as it is today so people just let themselves go and enjoyed it. The celebrations went on for days and if the wrong boys meet up to this day they can still go on".

Team manger Eugene Magee said Darby became a "prized commodity" overnight and as a result his personal life suffered.

"I probably stayed out at night drinking and celebrating and I should have probably been at home with my wife and kids. But having said that, that is what I did and there's nothing I can do about that."

A victim of the recession his business went bust and with the breakdown of his marriage he was forced to leave Ireland to look for work, he ended up managing run down pubs in East Dulwich and the Elephant and Castle

"It was an awful feeling, when I was walking off the pitch in 82' a man put his hand on me and said 'Seamus you'll never see a poor day' and here I was seven years later heading for the boat with 50 quid in my pocket I was only after getting off a friend of mine.

"I near enough lived rough, running oul pubs you wouldn't have put a dog into. I often lay down in bed and cried my eyes out, but anyway I got through it and got back on feet".

Despite the toll it took on him personally and financially, Seamus says he doesn't regret scoring the goal that changed the course of his life.

"They were great days, we had great times and we were very lucky to have been around", he said.


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